Brows and blows

After a busy few months Tania and I wanted to get away for a few days. So we made a plan. First stop Bempton to see the Black-browed Albatross. I’d seen the Sula Sgeir bird a decade or more ago but how could you say no to an Albatross in British waters. You just ‘have’ to go and see it. They are the bees knees of seabirds. A thought not shared by the Gannets who didn’t take to their larger cousin at all. He ousted a few off the cliffs to crash land among them. Tania had great views of the bird as she looked down on the bird circling below her.

First part of the plan completed we thought we’d carry on North and visit Kinghorn. Now this is the second time this year I’ve called at this pretty village just over the Forth from Edinburgh. I paid a visit at the end of May. The idea then was to see if the guests on the UK Mammal Tour could add Sei Whale to their lists. Despite it’s rarity in UK waters there had been one kicking around in the Firth of Forth for a few weeks. Sadly it wasn’t to be as the whale didn’t play ball. However, Tania and I thought it would be worth a revisit this week as the Sei Whale was still being seen with some regularity. It took some time, but eventually the third largest animal on the planet graced us with a ‘swim-past’. In fact two; once going up river and then a second as it returned East. Thanks to Ronnie Mackie for his invaluable help and great company in seeking out this addition to our British mammal list. The last time I saw one of these creatures it was amid the clear waters of a Chilean Fjord on the day Tania and I first met; a long way from a small seaside town on the East coast of Scotland.

2 Responses to “Brows and blows”

  1. 1 Mike Such
    Jul 22, 2021 at 5:26 pm

    Hi Carl,

    Hope this finds you both well.

    Great letter regarding the wonderful Albatross and the stunning Sei Whale.

    I went up to Bempton several days ago for the Albatross as I simply couldn’t resist any longer and what a wonderful bird. I always thought if I was ever lucky enough to see one in the Uk it would probably be from a Cornish headland through gritted teeth and a force 9 gale, not drifting around a cliff in blistering sunshine and having an extended snooze on a flat calm sea! It’s such a wonderful place and I was lucky enough to watch several small groups of bottlenose dolphins drift by early morning as well.

    I didn’t know about the Sei Whale before your post and having looked online I see it’s been in and around for months. I am sorely tempted to go up there on the off-chance and I was wondering, cheekily, whether you could provide any pointers. I notice you viewed from the North side, whilst the early sightings were from the South. I’m assuming High tide is a must but was wondering if there’s any info on the whale’s preferences, dare I say ‘routines’!?

    I’m at Dunwich cliffs from this weekend for the annual Seawatch, although Saturday and Sunday is looking a little dodgy with thunder and lightening; not an inviting prospect with a carbon-fibre tripod and telescope on top of a distinct promontory but if I survive that then the Sei whale trip might be too tempting too!

    I attended your Norfolk event last year on one day and wish you better luck this year. I seem to recall you once picked out a Humpback Whale from Suffolk before his extended stay around Horsey a number of years ago now (one of my all-time favourite memories) but a few porpoise are a more likely eventuality, although I understand occasional white-beaked dolphins are seen from there.

    Anyway really enjoying your posts and wishing you good luck with your future trips.

    Best wishes

    Mike Such

    Sent from my iPad


    • Jul 22, 2021 at 5:42 pm

      Hi Mike good to hear from you. Park in Kinghorn in the free car park on Pettycur Lane adjacent to Doo Dells Lane. This will give you outstanding views with plenty of height. It can occur anytime or anywhere however it’s easiest to see on a falling to low tide as its food source tends to be concentrated into the channels between the green and red bouys. Well that’s my conclusion. Seek out Ronnie Mackie (scot, tall, beard) he knows everything and will be viewing from there. Also become a member of ‘Forth marine mammals’ group on facebook for updated data on what’s about. Good luck. Let me know how you get on. Carl

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Jul 2021


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